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Not Your Mama's Joggers

I'm trying to learn how to wear joggers. I fought it for a long time. They remind me of those cringy 80's sweatpants with elastic cuffs. Actually, they pretty much are those sweatpants. But, for many reasons, I knew they would find their way into my wardrobe at some point. First, and most importantly, I rarely dress up. And by dress up, I mean wear jeans. A good chunk of my work is done at home, I have five kids, and I live on Cape Cod where suits are reserved exclusively for funerals. I shop in the activewear department even though I don't exactly work out. Second, I've noticed that as I age, I've developed an aversion to anything even remotely itchy or restrictive. 1% wool? No sir, not wearing it. And finally, every spring and fall, I struggle with the quandary of what to wear on my lower half. Jeans and leggings are too hot; shorts and skirts too cold.

My reasons were compelling, and they outweighed my fashion anxiety. So out I went and bought my very fist pair of joggers. Yet every night, when I changed from day clothes into comfy clothes (admittedly, this is a transition from comfortable loungewear to ultra comfortable loungewear), I by-passed the joggers and opted for my go-to bootcut yoga pants. Until one day, a combination of two things prompted a change.

First, I went to a party. was a bunch of moms gathering on the playground. One mom was wearing joggers and I was like, 'those look wicked cute'. Second, I was starting to sense that the more I avoided them, the less likely I was to EVER wear them. And the idea of putting an item of clothing in the donation bin with the tags still on makes me crazy.

So the next morning, once the kids went off to school and I realized I had a rare chunk of time on my hands, I decided it was the day to bust out the joggers. The problem, though, was that I couldn't figure out what the hell to wear with them. My usual daytime uniform is leggings and an oversized long-sleeve tee or hoodie. But the oversized tops paired with baggier bottoms were way too pajama-like, even for me. So. I kid you not. I Googled "how to wear joggers." I scrolled through images of super-pretty-way-younger-than-me fashionistas who were rocking joggers WITH HEELS. WTF. I thought the idea here was comfort and now I have to wear joggers with heels? I decided not to focus too much on the footwear and hone in on the tops.

Finally, I hit a site that struck a chord. The half tuck. Or full tuck. Take your pick. Bottom line is, the tuck makes or breaks the outfit. I haven't tucked my shirt into my pants for years. But I decided it was worth a shot, and let me tell you - it was game changing. Suddenly, the joggers started looking less frumpy and more J Lo. Okay. That was a stretch. A big stretch. But I was inspired. I must have tried half my tops with the joggers. I even attempted a crop top stolen from my daughter's closet and it wasn't awful. I mean, I don't know if I'd make a public appearance, but I was starting to understand the concept of more-pants-less-top which is the exact opposite of how I've been styling for the last few decades.

A few Google searches later, and I was gaining confidence on the jogger front. I settled on an outfit, but still had to stop and check myself in the mirror every so often for reassurance that I wasn't morphing back to the days of Z Cavaricci. Each time I looked, I doubted my purchase. I couldn't seem to nail the "look" on all those Pinterest posts. Why is it that some women can roll out of bed and just throw something on and look super cute with zero effort, and here I am Googling "how to wear joggers" and can't quite hit the mark? It's like those messy buns. How do you do that? Mine look like a before picture even after twenty minutes of cursing at bobby pins. Maybe some accessories would help? Perhaps I need to learn how to layer necklaces? Or carry a really cute hand bag? But I hate hand bags and I tried to layer some necklaces and they looked totally ridiculous.

I decided to ignore my skepticism and took the plunge. Off I went on my first outing in joggers - to the UPS store. It was the most basic of errands, but you have to start somewhere. I made it in and out without any sideways glances, so I pushed myself. Onto the dry cleaners! Once again, no raised eyebrows. No suppressed snickering. No hushed whispers about the middle aged lady who was trying way to hard to rock the joggers. Overzealous now, I pushed on and decided to make a cursory loop through the grocery store. I didn't really need anything (but as a mother of five, that's sort of a stupid statement). $100 later, I hit my stride and even started thinking I might spring for another pair.

A few hours later, when Paige came home from school, the first thing she told me when I asked about her day was that she got lots of compliments on her outfit. And guess what? She happened to be wearing not just joggers, but jean joggers. I know. Mind blown that they make these, right? "Funny you should say that," I responded, "because today, I finally wore these joggers that have been sitting in my drawer for months." I confided in her that I Googled how to wear them and in that duh mom tone that only tweens and teens can pull off, you know what she said? "What are you talking about mom? You just put them on." Right. And then just throw you hair in a messy bun.

The next day, I reverted back to my standard leggings. Within five minutes, I was pining for my joggers. Suddenly, what once were comfortable and unrestrictive felt like they were suffocating my legs and abs. I tried to ignore it - after all, I had a drawer full of leggings in just about every color - a hefty wardrobe investment. I had to re-embrace them. But by the end of the day, I couldn't wait to peel them off and shift to nighttime loungewear. It's funny - years ago, I exclusively wore bootcut jeans which eventually evolved to skinny jeans. Then came the legging era which I sense may be hitting a turning point. With each progression comes more comfort. Soon we'll be seeing models in snuggies hitting the runway. And heels of course.

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